The lights are going out in Vienna.
The Tablet reports (27 September) that The Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has announced that the 660 parishes in the Archdiocese of Vienna are to be drastically reduced over the next 10 years to just 150.
The Archbishop made the announcement to a startled audience of journalists at the annual media reception at the archbishops’ palace on 20 September. The main factors behind the restructuring are the declining number of churchgoing Catholics and the shortage of priests. Parishes in the archdiocese will in future be much larger, with three to five priests in charge, one of whom will be responsible to the archbishop. Each of these large parishes will be run jointly by priests and lay Catholics. Cardinal Schönborn described the move as “probably the greatest structural reorganization of the Vienna archdiocese for 200 years.”
The Roman Catholic decline around the globe is accelerating and the old gentlemen in Rome seem to be taking it all in stride. Maybe they feel a smaller church is more easily controlled. Or maybe our church leaders are simply unable to acknowledge their own shortcomings. In any event, Catholics are jumping ship and Peter’s Bark is taking on water.
As theologian, Charles Curran told a Detroit, church reform group recently: “One would expect in any other organization – if your organization, your business, your group, whatever – it was lost one-third of its members, wouldn’t you try to do something about it? The American Catholic Church has barely mentioned the problem, let alone done anything about it. Amazing! Simply amazing! If a business lost a third of its members, they’d be doing everything possible. They’d be going out of business, or saying, ‘We gotta do something about this.’ We have done nothing about it in the American scene specifically….”
In any event. I haven’t grabbed my lifejacket yet.
Next week : a birthday party for Vatican II!